by: Lincoln Sanford [ ]
The Type 015C, NATO codename Luzhou class, is an air defense missile destroyer built by the Dailan Shipyard for the PLA Navy. The first-of-class, it was commissioned October 2006. It is deployed by the North Sea Fleet based at Qingdao.
Interestingly enough, during my research, I learned that the PLA Navy usually builds a couple of ships of a class to test new weapon systems platforms and electronics, then moves on to a new class.
The box is sturdy, with no damage incurred during shipping. The box art shows DDG-115 at sea, and is well done. I actually used it for a rigging and antenna example for my finished ship. However, the box states the kit is for three year olds and up- a statement which caused many chuckles as the build progressed.
Each sprue tree is individually wrapped, the PE sheet and decals are individually wrapped as well. The decal sheet is sandwiched between paper, and the PE backed with cardboard, so as to avoid any bending. As this was my very first Trumpeter kit ever built, I found the packaging extremely well done.
The Instructions and Paint Guide...
Let me state first off, I am a CAD drafter by trade, and I can be quite critical of shoddy plans. After all, well made plans make our hobby a little more enjoyable! Keeping that in mind, here goes.
First, the paint guide also doubles as the decal placement guide. It is in FULL color, and I found it was very helpful. As it is the only thing that will tell the builder what color everything is to be painted, and some information is lacking, it will be useful to have some ship building experience to ease the frustration. As for the instructions, they show the sprue layouts, PE and decal sheets. All steps, save the bottom of the hull and step seven show the ship in isometric view, from forward going aft. As this simplifies things for the manufacturer to use the same CAD image and build from there, if some additional detail views were used, it would clarify things. In other words, I found the plans confusing in spots.
Right off the bat, I found mold lines on the aft hull bottom, and amidships hull bottom. Maybe I've gotten spoiled by the latest technology, because ten years ago, this wouldn't have fazed me a bit. In my opinion, I find it inexcusable in a kit nowadays. This started a LONG amount of time spent getting to know sandpaper. This occured throughout my build, and it was frustrating. I held off putting the prop shafts, props and parts B27, B28, B29 and B30, as well as the forward/aft flagstaffs until the end, so as to avoid breaking off fiddly parts during the build.
Steps 3, 4, 5, 8, 9, 10, 11, 13, 14 and 15 deal with building superstructures. Getting four sides to align just right, then fixing a deck to those four sides, all before the cyanoacrylate dries was a true exercise in patience. Then, to find that I was going to get to fill and sand due to poor fit was EXTREMELY AGGRAVATING. All the superstructures are subassemblies, and are installed in steps 5 and 16.
On the plus side, the CIWS consists of thirteen parts alone, and when completed is incredible. The PE radar, mast and yardarm braces really set off the kit. I opted out of using the PE "sailors", as I feel they all look like Gumby!
The deck details, such as chaff delivery, main gun, anchor chain, missile systems, lifeboats and torpedoes are well done, and complement the finished kit nicely.
As I wanted to show the potential buyer what the finished kit looks like, I built it straight OOTB, with the exception of the flag bridge lines and some antennas (I HAD to give it something to not look so naked). This kit screams for aftermarket PE rails!
I finished the kit with Tamiya acrylics, and weathered it with Modelmaster acrylics, to give it an "at-sea" appearance. All-in-all, a great looking kit when completed.